Munich Show 2009.
For my late-autumn 2009 pilgrimage to the Munich Show, all of the friendly old scenes and images were still there, still highly civilized and gemutlich ("homey, comfortable" is the best one can do with this nearly untranslatable word). There, just where I'd left them, were the Marienplatz, Isartor, Viktualienmarkt, the gemutliche Pension discovered last year and stayed in again this year ... spiffy shops, ebullient street life, efficient U-Bahns ... and say, when you make it to Munich, do try the fine and authentic Bavarian food at the Frauenhof restaurant on Frauenhoferstrasse. So impressed with this establishment was my traveling companion, Tom Gressman, that we skipped the Indian-style banquet generously offered to guests on Friday night at the mineral show, to return instead to the Frauenhof for another oniony-luscious Zwiebelrostbraten, enjoyed at a stout wooden table, shared with convivial locals, below the great stuffed heads of wild boar and deer (sounds a lot like "why not more beer?").
However, the dollar had reached a new low--it took $1.50 to buy a Euro--and it seemed that there were fewer American dealers and shoppers attending the show than in 2008. Too bad, for this is still clearly the Number Two mineral show in the world, and even Tucson cannot match some of its distinctive features. First among these, of course, is an educational plentitude of "local" mineral finds, especially Alpine ones; but the Munich Show also has going for it the fact that all of its wares are gathered in one place, and that place thoroughly trafficable on foot in a single day if it comes to that. (Take care, though, to wear good shoes, for all day you'll be stomping around the crazy-jammed Hallen with their colorful mineral goods, and the trek can be tiring much beyond what you might expect).
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A slight change had been made from last year's show layout: the gemstone and lapidary dealers had two big halls all to themselves while mineral dealers occupied all of Halle 6 and part of Halle 5. The remaining space of the latter was given over to fossils, including two complete dinosaur skeletons, one of them a gargantuan herbivore, Apatosaurus janahpin. There was also the carnivorous Allosaurus fragilis, along with the very rare remains of an Archaeopteryx, the world's oldest known bird. The show catalog, for its erudite part, offered fine articles on Archaeopteryx fossils, Darwinian evolution, and the history of work in Jurassic dinosaur habitats in Europe and in the Wyoming badlands.
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The chief show theme was India: its minerals, its lapidary materials, its jewelry ancient and modem, and (not to neglect) its food--exotic spices were on sale at tapestried booths in a mini-bazaar which stretched between the enclosed display pavilion and a snack area where simple curried dishes (with Neumarkter Lammsbrau beer) kept selling briskly. Back in the pavilion, case after wide case held wonderful specimens of Deccan Plateau minerals: a highlight was a mesolite specimen from near Pune, with great white sprays of acicular crystals covering a matrix plate nearly a meter wide, in one of the several cases put in by K. C. Pandey's Gargoti Museum. Terry Huizing contributed a lovely case of Indian calcite specimens; the Natural History Museum of Paris had a wall case on the histories of some large blue diamonds from India; Hans Weihreter of Augsburg had some vertical cases displaying "The Jewels of the Maharajas"--ancient, ornate, mostly red-and-gold items including inlaid brooches and breastplates, chains of little gold Hindu-deity heads, body ornaments all of filigreed gold, and so on. An innermost area of the pavilion, presided and brooded over by a translucent-glass carving of the elephant god Ganesh, displayed just two great specimens from the collection of Adalberto Giazotto. One of these is a quartz crystal group, with two colorless, pointed, wavy-faced crystals displaying the "Tessin habit," measuring 28 X 47 cm; the other is the largest known gem-quality crystal of Indian aquamarine, a sharp, blue-green, 16 X 32-cm prism from Paplam Patti, Karur district, Tamil Nadu state, southern India. The show catalog pitched in with (among other things) a long article by Berthold Ottens on the minerals of the Deccan Plateau and on recent developments at the Gargoti Museum in Shirdi.
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The "Alpine Strahler" area is by now a dependably permanent feature of the Munich Show. On its outside one finds, first, the Tyrolean nibble-station where roseate, dirndled women and girls and slightly surly young men in leather aprons dispense cheese and smoked sausage samples, free of charge to the tourist. Moving around the perimeter, one sees a good number of extremely fit-looking Strahlers with interesting specimens, as if just popped from their collecting sacks, on sale at "tailgate"-style prices. In the Alpine display area proper, this year, the South Tyrolean Mining Museum had put in a big, multi-case display showing minerals typical of the intrusive igneous rocks, contact-metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks, Alpine clefts and ore veins of the Alpine regions; whoever took time to work slowly around this alcove of cases could learn a great deal. Then, courtesy of two expert Strahlers, Franz von Arx and Elio Muller, there were four vertical cases of smoky quartz and pink fluorite specimens from central Switzerland and from Mont Blanc, France (see the pertinent article in this issue). But the real crowd-grabbers were several enormous clusters of transparent, colorless, highly lustrous quartz crystals dug by von Arx and Muller last year on the Planggenstock, Goscheneralp, Uri, Switzerland, all backlit very effectively on their carpeted platforms. Each of these radiant objects measures more than a meter across, and Michael Wachtler's article in the show catalog tells the story of their discovery.
The 2009 Munich Show was quite rich in "local"--i.e. European, especially German--discoveries of interest. Two German dealers had about 100 specimens each from a mimetite discovery made, just a month before the show, in an "old classic" locality in the southern Black Forest, namely the Haus Baden mine at Badenweiler, Baden-Wurttemburg. Exploitation of lead ore veins around Badenweiler began during Roman times, and between about 1750 and final cessation of mining in 1926 many fine specimens of mimetite, pyromorphite, galena, cerussite, fluorite and other minerals emerged from the district. In early fall 2009 a hitherto unnoticed vein in a still-accessible part of the Haus Baden mine yielded about 500 specimens of mimetite, from miniature to large-cabinet size. The mimetite forms perfect, smooth-surfaced spheres of a pleasant silky orange color, to 1 cm in diameter, which lie spotted or intergrown on matrix plates and in some cases piled high like bunches of little orange grapes: even the best of these attractive, vaguely Mexican-looking mimetite specimens could be had for under 100 Euros from Carsten Slotta (firstname.lastname@example.org) or from Wendel Mineralien (www.wendel-mineralien.de).
At the latter dealership, friendly Herr Wendel also had a few beautiful cabinet-size barite specimens recently found in the old mines near Annaberg, Sachsen, in the former East Germany. In recent times these mines have chiefly been known for their specimens of "black" (really very dark purple) fluorite, but the new barite specimens are even nicer than most of the fluorites. Lustrous, bladed, translucent orange-pink barite crystals form parallel groups and "crests" reaching 25 cm; yellow fluorite crystals are associated, and there are golden dustings of microcrystals of chalcopyrite.
In fact, before I move on from Wendel Mineralien I must acknowledge this dealership's dazzling selection of German and other "old classic" specimens, mostly of thumbnail and miniature sizes, which Herr Wendel has been garnering from old collections. A multi-tiered array, with the specimens sitting up temptingly on their plastic bases, included outstanding galenas from the Ramsbeck, Siegerland and Freiberg regions; copper from Bad Ems; azurite from Altenmittlau; calcite from Andreasberg, Harz Mountains; silver from the Pohla mine in the Erzgebirge; and plenty more. There were also annabergite from Laurium, Greece; kermesite from Pezinok, Slovakia; sphalerite from Banska Stiavnica (Schemnitz), Slovakia; chalcocite and olivenite from Cornwall, England; some top-class vanadinite specimens of recent vintage from Mibladen, Morocco; and a few dozen of the new mimetites from Badenweiler. This was the most impressive shopping-selection of small specimens from "old" places I've seen in years.
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But Steffen Michalski of Leipzig (email@example.com), over in Halle 5, had, as he does every year, many flats full of more German oldies, such that this stand almost matched Herr Wendel's for interest. Actually many of Steffen's specimens are not so old, having been found by modern collectors scavenging dumps and old workings in the mine-riddled centra] Erzgebirge ("Ore Mountains") of the former East Germany. Let one example stand for the rest: Steffen had some excellent specimens of safflorite pseudomorphs after silver dug from the huge dumps surrounding Shaft 186, near the village of Alberoda. Dull black but of excellent dendritic form, the pseudomorphic "trees" range from thumbnail to small-cabinet size, and some have sharp cubes of acanthite and/or skutterudite reposing on them. My thumbnail cost me all of 20 Euros (about $30).
A final German item of note was brought to the show by one of the few American dealers on hand, Rob Lavinsky of The Arkenstone. Rob had a few recently collected specimens of autunite-uranocircite from the Streuberg quarry, Bergen, Vogtland, Sachsen--known since the 1970s for such specimens, and intermittently productive of them to the present day. Rob's miniatures show typical sheaf-shaped aggregates of autunite-uranocircite crystals to 2 cm or so, of a brilliant yellowish green hue; they are probably the most richly colored specimens of this material yet found.
In the August 3, 2009 installment of the online "what's new in the mineral world" (at www.MineralogicalRecord.com) I spoke favorably of a new dealership, that of the brothers Anton and Rudolf Watzl of Linz, Austria--check out their fine Alpine (and other) offerings at www.watzlminerals.com. At Munich this year, the small but elegant Watzl Minerals booth was graced by about 10 superb specimens of epidote collected during the past 10 years from the great cleft at Knappenwand, Untersulzbachtal, Salzburg, Austria, where collecting again is possible now that the researchers from the Vienna Natural History Museum have finished their work at the site. Most of these new epidote specimens are repaired (in fact, the majority of all extant Untersulzbachtal epidote specimens are repaired), but the reassemblies have been done well and the crystal groups, from 6 to 15 cm, are no less beautiful for the rescuing. The highly lustrous, well terminated epidote crystals reach 10 cm individually, and the groups show, in varying combinations, typical associations of sharply crystallized albite, apatite-(CaF), and fibrous actinolite ("byssolite" or "amianthus"). Prices range from 1000 to 4000 Euros. Also the Watzls had a few specimens, found in 2003, of another Austrian classic; strontianite from the magnesite mine at Oberndorf-an-der-Laming, Styria. The Watzls' pieces, from 8 to 12 cm across, are parallel groups of stout, translucent, pale yellow-brown strontianite crystals in cauliflowerhead-like arrangements, and they are excellent representatives of the Oberndorf occurrence--perhaps the world's best for the species.
At a long table at the edge of the "Alpine Strahler" section, Dominique Feray (firstname.lastname@example.org) was selling hundreds of beautiful smoky quartz specimens from a 2-meter-wide cavity which was discovered in July 2008 at Les Periades, Mont Blanc, France; it had taken a team of expert French strahlers (pardonnez-moi, in France they are called cristalliers) more than a year to clean out this bountiful cleft. The lustrous, totally gemmy, medium-smoky quartz crystals range in size from a few millimeters to 30 cm. There are thumbnail-size stacks of crystals showing distinct white faden lines (for just 7 Euros apiece); there are gleaming, super-sharp "open" gwindels to 8 cm, totally gemmy in medium-brown; there are giant clusters of fat prismatic crystals (one especially nicely arranged, with a central, towering crystal 25 cm tall); and there are plates of granitic matrix covered with crystals, the plates to 40 cm across. One could hardly imagine a finer selection of Alpine smoky quartz.
Unfortunately, the Mont Blanc quartz cleft just described contained no octahedral pink fluorite crystals--but many other recently opened Mont Blanc clefts apparently did. I saw more of these beauties at this Munich Show, I believe, than I've seen at any past show. Many of the pink fluorite crystals are luster-challenged and most are loose and incomplete, but we still should be glad for the bounty. To name but one example, Peter and Janet Wittur (peter.wittur@ web.de) enjoyed an especially good summer on the Talefre glacier, Mont Blanc, and thus had about 30 nice pink fluorite thumbnails: sharp, transparent, pale pink octahedral crystals to 2.5 cm, most of them loose but a few perched well on white shards of feldspar, with tiny smoky quartz crystals.
In the show's "Alpine Strahler" domain (again), Chianale Franco (Via Osasco 71, 10141 Torino, Italy) put out some flats of fine epidote specimens from Val di Viu (northwest of Torino) and of vesuvianite from Bellecombe, Aosta. Both of these are long-known Italian occurrences whose specimens are but seldom seen nowadays. Signore Franco told me that all collecting at Bellecombe is now forbidden (as the collecting area lies within a protected nature park), whereas Val di Viu is still collectible though with great difficulty. The best of the epidotes from Val di Viu are clusters of brilliantly mirror-faced, blocky, blackish green crystals which reach 1.5 cm individually (miniatures cost up to 50 Euros); the best of the Bellecombe vesuvianites show brilliant, dark greenish brown, edge-transparent, flat-topped prisms to 2 cm (50 to 100 Euros for a good miniature in this case). Add some good selections of gold from Brusson and of grossular/clinochlore from Val di Susa and you have a first-rate array of beautiful, classic Italian minerals, smallish in size but flashing at you alluringly from many meters away.
Jordi Fabre (www.FabreMinerals.com) had his usual clutch of noteworthy new items, including a couple from his Spanish homeland. First, he had 18 tiny nuggets and groups of rounded, subhedral crystals of gold from a placer occurrence first found in 2004 in the Sierra de la Chimenea, Talarrubias-Casas de Dom Pedro, Badajoz, Spain. These are hardly world-class gold specimens but they show promise, and who ever heard of gold from Spain, anyway? The best of the waterworn crystal groups reach 8 mm. Jordi also offered some specimens from a new find of barite at the Concession Beltraneja, Minas del Cortijuelo, Bacares, Almeria, Spain (you can count on Jordi to get these localities right). Very thin, medium-lustrous, platy barite crystals, ranging in color through pale blue, colorless and (iron-stained) yellow-brown, are arrayed edge-on in jumbled groups from 5 to 28 cm across; Jordi had about 40 of these pieces, mined in 2002-2003.
We shall now leave Europe and sojourn to Morocco, but we'll keep Jordi Fabre as guide/host for one more what's-new. The busy Barcelonan has scored about 30 miniatures of the new dyscrasite from the Bouismas mine, Bou Azzer district, Morocco, which I mentioned in the last Denver report and in my August 3 online installment. Bright metallic white, elongated and splintery crystals of the rare silver antimonide ([Ag.sub.3]Sb) are shot through massive white calcite, and stand revealed after the calcite has been judiciously acid-etched away. Jordi says that there is currently only a single supplier of these specimens, and let's hope that more emerge--they are quite pretty in their way, reminiscent of old silver-in-calcite specimens from Batopillas, Mexico.
Tempting as it may be to linger indefinitely in the parts of the Halle where "elite" dealers from Western countries hang out, one should not neglect to spend serious time in the regions where folks from Peru, Morocco, Mali, China, Pakistan, India, etc. spread litters of unlabeled specimens out in enamel trays and spongy brown cardboard boxes, or simply on bare tabletops. Most of the merchants are English-challenged (never mind German); some are hyperaggressive, and some are a little sad-looking--but the flea-market ambiance is stimulating, and, of course. Who Knows What You Might Find? This year, some busy fellows from Bougafer Minerals & Fossils (email@example.com) of Midelt, Morocco had a single flat in which thumbnail and miniature-size specimens of limonite pseudomorphous after pyrite rolled and jostled about; these were found in August near Imilchil, Morocco, and are a new item from that increasingly important locality. No, limonite pseudomorphs after pyrite are nothing rare, being found in plenty of places all over the world, but the Imilchil specimens are unusually attractive. Razor-sharp cubes to 3 cm occur singly and in tightly intergrown clusters of two or three, all free of matrix: think of good, clean pyrite from La Rioja, Spain, but make it medium-lustrous and mahogany-brown. The specimens are rather heavy, and probably still consist largely of unaltered pyrite within--the fact that I didn't spot any telltale edge-chipping testifies to the good condition of these specimens, none of which (the Moroccan guys said) would set you back more than 15 Euros.
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We don't often see good minerals from Tunisia, but Laurent Gautron of 3G Environnement (firstname.lastname@example.org) had about 15 nice specimens of cerussite from the Ressas Touireuf lead-zinc mine in that country: they are antiques out of an old collection Laurent bought, the mine having closed during the 1930s. Sharp, thick, lustrous cerussite single crystals and V-twins to 5 cm are available as loose specimens, and there is one 18-cm matrix plate thickly covered with cerussite crystals. The cerussite is mostly milky white and translucent, but there are some transparent, colorless areas. These specimens are bargains at between 12 and 35 Euros (except for the 18-cm matrix piece, which Laurent is holding onto for now).
An important newsflash from Munich last year was the find of beautiful pinkish orange olmiite in a new pocket in the N'Chwaning II mine, Cape Province, South Africa. French prospector Paul Balayer of Kalahari Mineral Venture (email@example.com) was the finder, and in August 2009 he did it again, pulling out about 30 superb thumbnails and toenails from yet another new pocket in the N'Chwaning II mine, and these new specimens, besides being gorgeous, are distinctly different from all older olmi-ites both in habit and in color. Equant, smooth-sided, compound but sharply individualized olmiite crystals to 2.5 cm rest lightly on druses of colorless calcite; the diamond-shaped crystals resemble short fans just beginning to open. They are highly lustrous, and their orange-pink color is more vivid than that of the olmiites offered last year. A few larger specimens--to 10 X 15 cm--have olmiite crystals scattered on a matrix of dull black hausmannite, with little spheres of chalky white calcite. Top thumbnails of this material were selling for around 150 Euros. And Paul (assisted by Professor Bruce Cairncross) was also marketing 12 nice small-cabinet-size specimens of celestine found in July 2009 in a single pocket in the new N'Chwaning III mine. Lustrous, crisp sprays, all around 10 cm, of milky white to transparent and colorless, prismatic celestine crystals were available either loose or resting on an earthy brown-black matrix material, the matrix specimens reaching 15 cm across.
The 2009 Denver Show (see report in this issue) was graced by abundant supplies of the lovely new andradite ("demantoid") specimens now coming from diggings in a mangrove swamp at Antezambato, Antsiranana Province, on the northern coast of Madagascar. These fine, gemmy garnets also appeared in Munich at numerous dealerships, a special hat-tip going to Demineralia (www.demineralia.com), whose proprietor, Emanuele Marini, had filled a whole standing case with excellent demantoid specimens in a wide range of sizes. A humbler but more surprising offering from Madagascar was richterite, in sharp, complete, lustrous, opaque greenish black crystals to 4 cm, from a small prospect somewhere in Toliara Province, in the extreme south of the country. Calcite lenses in high-grade metamorphic rocks at this site gave up the richterite crystals when Laurent Thomas came by about five years ago with his digging equipment; at Munich, eight of the crystals were available (see Laurent's website for Polychrom Minerals at www.polychromfrance.com).
Mikhail Anosov of Russian Minerals (one of our new advertisers: firstname.lastname@example.org) had about 20 very good miniature specimens of the fairly rare zeolite thomsonite, found in summer 2009 in a basalt exposure somewhere on the Amudiha River, 300 km north of Tura, Siberia. Access to this scarily remote place is achieved only by helicopter, and, according to Mikhail, 1994 was the last year in which the region produced specimens that were marketed in the West (see the mentions of thomsonite and other zeolites from "Yakutia" and "the Tura region" in show reports in September-October 1992 and May-June 1993 respectively). Thomsonite from the Amudiha River forms lustrous white, spherical, flowerlike aggregates of bladed crystals, some aggregates with a very pale peach-colored blush in their centers, to 4 cm in diameter. Some "flowers" came out loose; others have small crystals of heulandite, stilbite, analcime or calcite attached to their bases.
The Russian Minerals stand at Munich could also boast a few intriguing specimens showing quartz pseudomorphs after apo-phyllite, these collected in June 2009 from the Krutoye mine, Tunguska River, Siberia--a roadfill quarry which went inactive in 2003. The pseudocrystals, to 3.5 cm, are dull milky white but textbook-sharp, composed about equally of a tetragonal prism and a tetragonal bipyramid, with small basal pinacoid faces topping (and bottoming) off the shape. They are extremely impressive examples of pseudomorphism, and Mikhail was letting them go for about 15 Euros apiece.
From 2001 to 2003 the market briefly saw offerings of exceptional chevkinite-(Ce) specimens from a discovery in the Tangir Valley, Diamar district. Northern Areas, Pakistan. The very sharp, bladed, wedge-terminated crystals of this complex silicate of Fe, Mg, Ti and the rare-earth elements reach many centimeters long, and occur in heavy groups of jet-black color and almost metallic luster, putting to shame all earlier known chevkinites from localities in Norway and Russia. I'd thought I had long since seen the last of any marketed lots of Pakistan chevkinite specimens, but lo! in Munich in 2009, Pierre Clavel (email@example.com) had about 50 specimens of it--great black shining groups, from 6 to 30 cm across, with chevkinite-(Ce) blades to 6 cm individually. Pierre said that he had just acquired these specimens from a Swiss laboratory which had acquired them for study in 1991 (interestingly, ten years before the earlier stashes were seen on the market). He added that the part of Pakistan where the locality lies is now Taliban-controlled: it may be a while, indeed it may be never, before we see fresh selections.
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Andreas Weerth (Hochfeldstr. 37, 83684 Tegernsee, Germany) has just returned from Pakistan with five superb thumbnails of monazite from Zagi Mountain, Northwest Frontier Province: check out the thorough article on the locality in May--June 2004 and you'll see that this species is not among those reported from the rare earths-rich alkaline granite prospected sporadically at Zagi Mountain. Andreas's specimens are loose clusters of gemmy, lustrous red-brown monazite crystals to 2 cm, found, he said, just three weeks before the show. And Andreas was even more pleased to flash at me a couple of specimens from the Kokcha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan on which super-sharp, equant, deep blue and highly lustrous crystals of what has been verified as sodalite rest on pyrite-infused white marble. These crystals, to 1.5 cm, are darkly colored and mirror-faced enough to suggest linarite, and are most surely not to be confused with the new sodalite-coated crystals of nepheline from the Kokcha Valley, these latter being baby-blue and not lustrous. I saw a couple of the flashy new Afghanistan sodalites in Denver, too, so perhaps we are in for some mind-broadening as concerns this species.
What is a mineral show these days without at least one new Chinese occurrence of pretty calcite? The Daye mining district in Hubei Province turns out many collectible minerals, among them calcite, whose crystals, chiefly from the Tonglushan and Tieshan mines, are usually white or colorless but can sometimes be dramatic. In summer 2009, an unspecified mine in the Daye district began giving up calcite specimens showing gemmy, lustrous, butterscotch-orange crystals reaching 7 cm, some in loose groups and some on a dark gray, shaly matrix; the calcite crystals are flattened rhombohedrons with secondary trigonal faces, and they are quite beautiful. Several dealers offered these pieces in Munich, but perhaps the best selection was with Zheng Jianrong, "curator" of the China Changsha Natural Mineral & Gem Museum (firstname.lastname@example.org), who had loose calcite crystals mostly around 5 cm and matrix plates to 20 cm across, well spattered with the glowing orange forms.
The tour will end in Brazil, site of two significant renaissances of earlier-known items. First, from a mine at Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais (5 km east of the famous Barra da Salinas tourmaline mine), come nine superb specimens of gleaming black cassiterite, found during the first week in October and brought to Munich by well-known Brazilian dealer and author Luiz Menezes (email@example.com). Very sharp, highly lustrous cassiterite crystals to 4 cm, all with "visor"-style contact twinning, cluster together in tight groups all measuring between 5 and 6 cm.
And finally, a gemmy climax: Jordi Fabre had 18 loose crystals, 1.5 to 3.5 cm long, of copper-rich elbaite from near Sao Jose de Batalha, Serido pegmatite province, Paraiba state, Brazil. The crystals of what is generally referred to as "Paraiba tourmaline" are etched and skinny, but lustrous and wholly transparent, and they do show the "electric" blue color, so treasured and so rare, that is characteristic of this exotic material--see the thorough article by Wendell Wilson in March-April 2002. Jordi has been told that these are newly mined crystals--and for about 1000 Euros ($1500) you could have one.
And so, as the sun sinks slowly over the Hofbrauhaus, it's time to say auf wiedersehen from Munich 2009. Of course it was a fine show, and that fact, plus my duty and my ceaseless nostalgia, and let's not forget the Kartoffelsuppe at the Frauenhof, will certainly call me back again next year. Some things (blessings be unto them) never change.
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|Title Annotation:||What's New|
|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
|Previous Article:||Denver Show 2009.|
|Next Article:||Bolivia: The Height of Mineral Collecting.|